IMR: 1999: May: 04 —  Tuesday, 9:10 a.m.
Watanabe Hall, University of Hawai`i-Manoa, Hawai`i

[ Harry Bwy ]I was so not expecting today to be the last day of classes.

It's practically a tradition. As May or December rolls around, I always plan my procrastination-focused schedule around "one last week" that isn't really there.

So suddenly, at about 8:10 p.m. last night, I actually look at the syllabi and discover that the final project story for Oshiro's specialized reporting class and the term paper for Bwy's stats class — which I figured I'd pump out over the weekend — were actually due the next day.

The new plan? Jam on the article, stall Bwy.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. this morning to finish my project story, working from two and a half interviews and lots and lots of questionable web research. (Well, the course does revolve around Computer Assisted Reporting.)

It was, without a doubt, the absolute worst piece of crap I have turned in for any class in my seven years in college. Seriously. I read it four times before turning it in, absolutely appalled that the former editor of a campus daily could puke up such trash.

But across all my assignments, even if this last one nets an 'F,' I have a good chance of averaging a high 'C' — which, as I've only learned late in my academic career, is all I really need.

Still, I was nauseated. As Oshiro delivered her wrap-up lecture in the form of (I kid you not) a rap song, I was dreading sitting through Bwy's "thanks for your papers" finale only to explain why he didn't get mine.

But my luck turned pretty quickly.

Oshiro let us out early, leaving me enough time to intercept Bwy at his office well before class. He was there, and very willing to talk.

I showed him what I had. My survey, the results (130 complete responses out of 251 submissions), and eight pages of progressively complex calculations, all courtesy a Microsoft Excel plug-in I found on the web. Means, standard deviations, reversals, z scores and a nine-variable correlation matrix. A fair amount of material for four hours of work.

Work, I might add, that only got done because mom locked me in the family room with a calculator on Sunday when she heard about the assignment, insisting that she and Jen would take care of Katie and the laundry.

(Yes, I am aware Mother's Day is this month.)

So anyway, I wanted to explain to Bwy why I hadn't done the actual paper. I wanted to ask how to group values for multiple correlations and what a first-order partial was. I wanted to get an extension to next week, probably the day before I leave for Hong Kong.

But before I could, he grabbed up my papers, shook them enthusiastically and said, and I quote:

"I'm very, very impressed by what I see here. This is good stuff. Getting a sample of 130 is phenomenal, and I can tell you really thought this through. I know you can get some great stuff out of this. You can get great stuff, get published even, with less than this. So, so I'll tell you what Ryan, you're getting an 'A' for the course. Where's my gradesheet? Here. Okay. 'A.' All right? I like this. I want you to work on this with me, but now you're doing it to learn, not for a grade."

So the good news is I'm passing the class after all. The bad news is, I'm going to be "collaborating" on this assignment into the summer.

At the moment, Bwy is lavishing praise on the entire class. What a happy guy. (He also said, a moment ago, "I'm not teaching this class next semester because apparently all the journalism students are picking me because I'm the easiest.") Even he concedes the entire department thinks he's insane, but that's just fine with me. I might not have learned all that much about statistics, but what I did learn I know I won't forget.

Which, as I've finally learned, is what counts.

Tuesday, 9:59 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Before I forget, Katie took her first official steps on Sunday.

Four of them, actually. She was carrying a cracker in each hand, and apparently didn't think about what that meant, and toddled quite easily across the four-foot space between the couch and the dresser.

We cheered. Jen squealed, jumped up and down and gave me a massive hug. Katie ignored us and ate her crackers.

Sadly, she hasn't done it again since. Mostly because, I suspect, when she's actually thinking about walking, she gets so nervous, she can't. As always, when we pull her up and gently let go, she just crouches, lowers herself to the ground and crawls instead.

It's frustrating — though perhaps only a taste of what's to come over the next two decades — to see that she is completely capable of doing something, but isn't confident enough to try. That it's not that she can't walk, but won't.

Okay. I know what's really going on.

I'm still bummed about the fact that Katie learned to crawl while I was in L.A. for last year's meeting. She also got her first tooth while I was away.

And at the time, I actually wrote: "I'm looking forward to the meeting in Hong Kong next May, but that's going to be for two weeks ... I shudder to think what milestones I may miss then."

So here I've been, pulling my hair out for the last month over her being fourteen, now fifteen months old and not yet walking, and I now realize that fate is just carefully timing this so Katie will transform herself to a fully ambulatory toddler while I'm in Hong Kong and she and Katie are visiting the in-laws in Florida.

I guess I should be happy that the grandparents who never see her will get to be right there during one of the most important transitions in her life. But still I know I will completely freak when they come back and Katie comes running down the jetway.

Completely freak.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 04 May 1999 · Last Modified: 11 May 1999